Biden to Participate in ABC Town Hall on Oct. 15 After Trump Refuses Virtual Debate

October 9, 2020 Updated: October 9, 2020

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden announced Thursday that he will participate in an ABC News town hall forum in Philadelphia on Oct. 15, the date originally intended for the second presidential debate.

The announcement came after President Donald Trump said that he would not take part in a virtual debate, as proposed by the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) with the aim being “to protect the health and safety of all involved,” instead requesting for the debate to be postponed to Oct. 22.

The former vice president’s announcement signals that he will no longer attend the second presidential debate on Oct. 15 as scheduled.

ABC News said Biden’s new event will be moderated by network anchor George Stephanopoulos who would take questions from voters.

Later Thursday night, after White House physician Sean Conley cleared Trump for a “safe return” to public engagements by Saturday, Oct. 10, the Trump campaign issued a statement calling on the CPD to allow the scheduled debate to go ahead as “agreed to months ago.”

Following the CPD’s Thursday morning announcement of a virtual second debate, Trump, in remarks to Fox News, said it was “not acceptable” for the commission to change the debate style.

“I’m not going to do a virtual debate,” Trump said on “Mornings with Maria.”

“I’m not going to waste my time at a virtual debate,” he said, adding that he wasn’t going to “sit at a computer” to debate, calling the arrangement “ridiculous.”

“They’re trying to protect Biden,” Trump said. “Everybody is.”

CPD said the debate would take the form of a town meeting in which the candidates will take part remotely from separate locations. The debate moderator, Steve Scully of C-SPAN Networks, as well as town meeting participants, would also be on location at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts in Miami, Florida.

Before Biden’s latest announcement, his deputy campaign manager, Kate Bedingfield, had said that he would participate in the virtual debate.

“Biden looks forward to speaking directly to the American people and comparing his plan for bringing the country together and building back better with Donald Trump’s failed leadership on the coronavirus,” she said in a statement to news outlets.

Questions have swirled around holding the debate after Trump contracted COVID-19, the illness caused by the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus. The president earlier expressed enthusiasm about taking part, writing on Twitter: “I am looking forward to the debate on the evening of Thursday, October 15th in Miami. It will be great!”

Biden, meanwhile, said on Tuesday that the second debate should be canceled if Trump remains infected, noting that “too many people have been infected,” and that it’s a “very serious problem.”

Trump ‘Eager to Campaign’

Conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh announced that the president will host a “virtual rally” on his show on Friday.

“I’m thrilled to announce that our commander-in-chief, President Donald Trump, will be right here tomorrow hosting the largest virtual rally in radio history,” Limbaugh said Thursday afternoon. “It will be special, and I am really looking forward to it.”

Trump also told Fox’s Sean Hannity on Thursday night that he wants to try and hold a campaign rally in Florida on Saturday “if we have enough time to put it together.”

He also said he might hold a campaign rally Sunday night in Pennsylvania. The president could be heard coughing a few times during the interview.

Trump is eager to return to the campaign trail and boost a campaign that is trailing in the national polls, and in most battlegrounds.

After being pressed repeatedly by Hannity on whether he had yet tested negative for the virus, Trump said he would take another COVID-19 test on Friday—nine days after his initial diagnosis.

“Well, what we’re doing is probably, the test will be tomorrow,” the president said. “And the actual test, because there’s no reason to test all the time, but they found very little infection or virus, if any. I don’t know if they found any, I didn’t go into it greatly with the doctors.”

Tom Ozimek and The Associated Press contributed to this report.